Avoiding a bad sales hire: Minimizing potential pitfalls

Avoiding a bad sales hire: Taking it from the top

The cost of a bad sales hire can’t be underestimated. While any poor hiring decision will cost a business money—translated into hiring costs, equipment expenditures, the time and money spent on training, severance pay, benefits, etc.—what stands out and should be taken seriously is the loss of potential revenue during that period when a superior salesperson could have been performing in that crucial role. 

Simply put, let’s say a sales development rep is expected to bring in an average of $750,000. They bring in $250,000, underperforming by more than 66 percent. The math seems simple. Your revenue is automatically down half a million dollars … but it doesn’t stop there. The effects of this bad hire, this underperformer, spread over the following years, where that revenue is lost for every sale a bad sales hire didn’t close.

There are a few methods you can employ and questions you can ask during the hiring process to avoid this financial and cultural pitfall.

How well do they know you?

Have they done their research? Have they really taken the time to consider this move, where they are going, what they are leaving and why they are leaving? A candidate who doesn’t take the time to consider a substantial move, who doesn’t think ahead probably is playing checkers rather than 4D chess.  

Do they habitually switch jobs?

Drive without direction isn’t good for much of anything. As a business, you don’t want a sales team member who is here today and gone tomorrow. You need a candidate who is going to stay, dig in, get to know your place within the industry and try to make their own. That takes time and commitment. The bad sales hire is in it purely for personal gain. A good sales hire seeks growth and that requires the stability of a professional home. 

Have you narrowed your search from the start?

You know your company, your existing team and your culture. Designing an ideal candidate profile that will meet your exact needs is a must. Now, the likelihood of finding the perfect sales hire is unlikely, but you are much more likely to find and acquire a bad sales hire if you don’t set search parameters that will get you as close to your hiring goals as possible.

Have you thoroughly checked their references?

This question might seem redundant, but conducting a truly informative interview requires a deep look into a candidate’s personal work history that is detailed and brings forward a definite story. It helps reveal inconsistencies—if there are any—and ultimately provides a good measure of the candidate’s trustworthiness. 

Considering hiring on a probationary basis

There are times we take every precaution and do every due diligence yet a candidate still fails to perform. One way to mitigate some of the potential loss brought about by a bad sales hire is to give the candidate a period in which they can show they have the ability and the drive to prove themselves before your business risks a larger loss by going all in and making them a permanent part of your sales team. 

And finally, talk to a recruiter. 

At Swift Placement and Consulting, we know manufacturing. We know the complex environments sales teams have to navigate and how vital a good sales hire can be to growth and remaining competitive in this increasingly competitive space. Your success equals our success. Let us be another resource that prevents costly hiring decisions.